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Last updated : Nov 2009
Arriving in Nam
Rating: (4.8)

Hanoi, Vietnam
Sep 13, 2003 06:10

Pros: alot of greenery, mountains, lakes
Cons: noisy, smelly and polluted

We got on the bus in Vientienne at 6.30pm. After faffing around in Vientienne for about an hour we were eventually on the road. About an hour out of Vientienne we stopped, reversed along the road for a bit, turned and headed back to Vientienne to get some petrol. About half an hour later we were back on the road in the right direction. We once again stopped to pick up a half drugged alsation dog, which was packed in at the back of the bus along with our rucksacks, boxes, plastic tubing and sacks of rice. The road was fairly well surfaced and we were going fairly fast until we turned off the main road onto a side road. To say it was bumpy would be the understatement of the millenium. It was so bumpy that it was very difficult to actually remain seated. Trying to sleep was futile. This continued for about 4 hours until we reached a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere at about 2.00am. We asked if we had time for something to eat and we were told that the bus wasn’t leaving until 7.00am. We asked ourselves why the bus didn’t just leave Vientienne 5 hours later? After about 2 hours we were asked to leave the restaurant. Back on the bus all the Vietnamese guys had taken our seats and were sprawled out asleep on them. They made no effort to move for us so we had to go back and sit in the restaurant for another 3 hours. It was then back on the bus and to the border. Leaving Laos was fairly easy, we just threw our passports through the little window and 10 minutes later they were thrown back at us. Entering Vietnam was slightly more interesting. We had to buy a ticket for 2000 kip, we have no idea what the ticket was for. I wasn’t given a ticket so I got away with not having to pay, until I collected my passport and was asked for 10,000 kip. The others thought this was because I didn’t have a ticket and they weren’t too impressed when they had to pay also. Welcome to the rip off that is Vietnam. The guards then proceeded to removed everything from the bus and search it, luckily it was just the Vietnamese that were searched.

One thing I instantly noticed was that the condition of the road in Vietnam was a lot better than in Laos. No more bumps, however there were a lot more people and a lot more bikes on the roads. The journey from the border to Hanoi was about 9 hours and the whole way the driver swerved around the road avoiding motorbikes, cycles, people on foot, chickens, cows and wardrobes. It was a nervewracking experience. The scenery was also very different, more mountainous and it seemed to me a lot greener. We stopped to be ripped off once more at a dirty little cafe. We had to pay 3US Dollars each for a plate of rice and vegetables. We also had a scary english guy travelling with us who refused to pay for his omlette that he'd ordered on the grounds that it wasn't actually an omlette (it was a fried egg on a pile of rice). Once we were moving again there were a couple of us standing in the aisle having a conversation with a Vietnamese guy, the scary english guy got up and announced really loudly that the aisle was getting busy. He rudely tried to push past us and asked me to take my seat. I told him I was having a conversation and he just turned and pointed at my seat telling me to sit! He then proceeded to the front of the bus, checked his hair in the mirror and went and sat back down!

I eventually managed to fall asleep just before we reached Hanoi. I was woken by a Vietnamese guy shouting at me to wake up. Buses aren’t allowed into Hanoi as the traffic is too busy so we had to switch to a mini bus which took us to a nice hotel. I was relieved just to get off the bus after 24 hours of being unable to move.

Vietnam is a huge culture shock after Laos. In Hanoi there are just so many people and bikes everywhere, it’s noisy, smelly and polluted, but of all the cities I’ve seen so far on my travels this is my favourite. We’re still really tired after the long journey here, so we’ve not done much today, walked around the lake and had a nice icecream at Fanny’s. We hope to stay here for a few days before heading south.